Densho Digital Archive
Frank Abe Collection
Title: Michi Weglyn Interview
Narrator: Michi Weglyn
Interviewers: Frank Abe (primary); Frank Chin (secondary)
Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: February 20, 1998
Densho ID: denshovh-wmichi-01-0001

MW: For the Issei actually it was simpler than for the Nisei. It was clear-cut because they were confronted with this question: "Do you forswear allegiance to the Japanese emperor, and swear unqualified allegiance to the U.S.?" What a stupid question. Because they were denied U.S. citizenship and how can they forswear allegiance to the emperor, when that, the possibility of let's say at that point, many Issei were rooting for their country and there was a possibility that Japan might win the war and it would be catastrophic if they would sign a paper saying that, "We forswear allegiance to the Japanese emperor." Their country, their leader.

FA: So what was the dilemma that these two questions posed for the Nisei?

MW: Well, for the Nisei, the two questions posed many, many questions. One, well, the Kibei were very quick to see through that same question which troubled the Issei because they said, "This is tricky." It's as though, let's say a German American were asked, "Do you forswear allegiance to Hitler and swear unqualified allegiance to the United States?" It implied that you indeed had a prior allegiance to Hitler. That puts a person in a ridiculous situation. And to tell you the truth -- oh, let me first answer your question fully in which you asked how did the two questions bring conflict to the Nisei. The Nisei were not in any mood at that point, in a concentration camp, to volunteer their services to go and fight their brothers or possibly their cousins in Japan. So they qualified their answers saying that, "We're very happy to fight but we would prefer to fight in Europe, not in Japan. Not wherever we are sent."

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